After a brief bit of difficulty with the voting mechanism---no, smart guy, we weren’t using butterfly ballots---I finally transformed my preliminary top 25 into an honest-to-goodness BlogPoll ballot, which looks like this:
Due to the dearth of games last weekend, there wasn’t a great deal of movement, but a few explanations are in order, in response to reader comments; viz.:
Asks skigator93, "If we beat Oklahoma in Miami, would that be enough to move us to #1 in your poll, or are you still too enamored with the Arena League they call the Big 12?" The answer, of course, is that the Saurians would receive a substantial boost from overturning the Sooner Schooner, and the difference between skigator93’s position and mine is that I am talking resumes here. My gut reaction may be that Florida will beat Oklahoma, but, as I proved last weekend, I’m bad at projecting future gridiron outcomes, so I’m better off relying on existing realities.
While other readers were sad to see that I had Oklahoma over Texas (to reiterate, the rebuttal to "45-35" is "39-33," and, besides, the ‘Horns are a division co-champion and the Sooners are a conference champion), The ArchDawg looked at it the right way:
- The Sooners lost to No. 2 Texas. The Longhorns lost to No. 4 Texas Tech. The Gators lost to No. 17 Ole Miss. Even though the Red River Shootout ended with a ten-point margin of victory, all three games were close, as O.U. led U.T. 35-30 with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Clearly, Oklahoma has the best quality loss of the three and Florida has the worst.
- The Sooners’ best victories are (in order) No. 4 Texas Tech, No. 12 Cincinnati, No. 18 T.C.U., No. 19 Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Nebraska. The Longhorns’ best victories are (in order) No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 19 Oklahoma State, and Missouri. The Gators’ best victories are (in order) No. 7 Alabama, No. 21 Georgia, Louisiana State, and Florida State. O.U. has gone 12-1 and been dominant against a significantly better slate than that faced by an equally dominant 12-1 U.F. squad. Oklahoma has beaten four teams ranked in my top 20 and one in my top five, Texas has beaten two teams ranked in my top 20 and one in my top five, and Florida has beaten one team ranked in my top 20 and none in my top five.
- I don’t like admitting this any more than the next lifelong rabid S.E.C. homer, but let’s get serious: this year, the Big 12 is up and the S.E.C. is down. When skigator93 writes "that things didn’t turn out the way you wanted this season for the Dawgs, but there’s no need to discount the entire conference because of it," he’s simply wrong, at least from a resume ranking standpoint. Of course it’s a reason to discount the entire conference! In a year in which the league as a whole failed to live up to expectations, winning the S.E.C. championship counts for less than winning the Big 12 championship. Those are the breaks. Beat Oklahoma and I’ll be impressed. Beating what turned out to be the most overrated Georgia team of the 21st century doesn’t impress me.
Along similar lines, Paragon SC wondered how I could have ranked Penn State over Southern California. Let me hasten to reiterate that this is not a power poll and I almost certainly will pick the Trojans to roll the Nittany Lions up and smoke them in the Rose Bowl, but, once again, I’m going by definite resumes, not inaccurate forecasts. Thus, the distinctions I draw are these:
- Penn State’s only loss was to No. 25 Iowa. Southern California’s only loss was to No. 23 Oregon State. While U.S.C. gets a slight nod here, it’s only a slight nod; effectively, that’s a wash, particularly since both were close games.
- The Nittany Lions beat Ohio State at full strength on the road. The Men of Troy won at home against a Buckeye club playing without its best player.
- P.S.U.’s second-best win was over No. 13 Michigan State. U.S.C.’s second-best win was over No. 14 Oregon. That, too, is a de facto push, but the Spartans’ slight edge over the Ducks offsets any difference between the two in the loss column.
- At that point, the tiebreaker is as fair as it is obvious: Penn State beat the Beavers 45-14 and Oregon State beat the Trojans 27-21. Case closed.
- For the benefit of anyone who doesn’t consider that last factor dispositive, though, U.S.C. is harmed by the same conference comparison that sunk Florida. Five of Southern California’s eight Pac-10 wins came against 5-7 Arizona State, 5-7 Stanford, 4-8 U.C.L.A., 2-11 Washington State, and 0-12 Washington, whereas three of Penn State’s seven Big Ten wins came against 7-5 Wisconsin, 9-3 Michigan State, and 10-2 Ohio State. The Nittany Lions simply faced a better class of competition in the Big Ten than the Trojans did in the Pac-10 this year.
As always, I have until Wednesday morning to make revisions to that ballot, so please feel free to continue offering questions and constructive criticisms on the foregoing.